Dioceses celebrate arrival of replica ship

Published December 1, 2003


After an absence of many years, the Jeanie Johnston sailed into the harbour at Quebec City from Ireland . This was not the original Jeanie Johnston but an intricately-constructed replica, built at Blennerville, near Tralee , Ireland .

For the captain and crew, it was a return to its place of origin and its distinguished role in transporting emigrants escaping the Irish famine in the mid-19th century.

The arrival had special significance for three dioceses in a companion relationship: the diocese of Limerick and Killaloe in the (Anglican) Church of Ireland , the Canadian diocese of Quebec , and the Episcopal church diocese of New Hampshire . Some members from the dioceses of Quebec and New Hampshire visited the shipyard in 1999 and saw the ship under construction.

As part of the Quebec City visit, a banner with the logo of the companion diocese program, carried across the Atlantic on the ship, was presented to representatives of the diocese of Quebec . The banner then travelled to the diocese of New Hampshire for presentation to Bishop Douglas Theuner on his retirement. For the final part of its journey, the banner will return to the diocese of Limerick and Killaloe.

Grosse Isle, in the St. Lawrence, was a major entry point into North America in the mid-19th century as disease destroyed the potato crop, a staple of the Irish diet, from 1845-1848. The resulting famine caused one million Irish to emigrate and one million deaths. Many emigrants did not survive the two-month transatlantic trip on what were often described as coffin ships and are buried on Grosse Isle.

The Jeanie Johnston, originally built in Quebec , was chosen as the model for the replica ship because of its record of not losing any passengers in transit; beginning with its first trip in 1848, it always had a doctor aboard for its 16 voyages to Quebec , Baltimore and New York , and brought more than 2,500 emigrants to new beginnings.

Rev. Lynn Ross is a retired priest in the diocese of Quebec.


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